© 2024 WXXI Public Broadcasting, 280 State St. Rochester, NY 14614, (585) 325-7500
Celebrating 50 years on FM 91.5
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Sharing releases, present and past, to brighten your day. WXXI Classical has its eyes and ears on the latest releases from classical artists working today. When we come across a story or a release we think you might enjoy, we’ll be sharing it with you on CD Spotlight. You’ll learn more about the artists online at WXXI Classical, and you’ll hear selections from these artists on FM 91.5. CD Spotlight shares new releases by artists that you’ll want to know and some by great artists and ensembles that deserve to be in the spotlight again.

CD Spotlight: The Mystery Sonatas, Alan Choo, violin & Apollo’s Fire

Behold! I tell you a mystery. Actually, I have for you a whole bunch of mysteries, of love, life, joy, and sorrow.

They are all found in a collection of violin sonatas by baroque composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704), known as the Mystery, or Rosary, Sonatas, with music for each of the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries of the rosary.

These pieces are WEIRD. The violin is tuned differently for almost every sonata, a technique also known as scordatura. And whether or not you can hear the exact programmatic references, Biber certainly creates dramatic affect and effects throughout.

My favorite recording has long been one by violinist Andrew Manze, with Richard Egarr playing organ and harpsichord. I was recently delighted to hear this very different - and very excellent - performance by violinist Alan Choo, with the dramatic, communicative, playful baroque orchestra Apollo’s Fire, led by Jeannette Sorrell.

I know that this evocative music was something I excitedly shared at some point with my mother, who loved the rosary, and prayed it regularly. I was supposed to write this article earlier this week, on Tuesday, but no one would have faulted me for letting it go - when my mother, Rosemary, passed away that night after a brief and difficult illness. Yet the very next morning, I felt compelled to spend time with this music, and to write a little something to share with you, because it is tied to something so important to her.

There are mysteries to explore, and here is one way to encounter them, whether you’re here for excellent baroque recordings, unusual history, a sense of reverent mystery, or perhaps also need to be reminded that love persists, and as in the final haunted solo passacaglia (one of the earliest written for a truly solo violin), an angel may now watch over you.

Mona Seghatoleslami is the Music Director, host and producer on WXXI Classical 91.5 FM weekdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. She also hosts the lunchtime concert series Live From Hochstein Wednesdays at 12:10 p.m., interviews musicians, produces special programs, and works on any project she can find that helps connect people and music in our community through WXXI.